WINNER of MTN Young Designer of the Year at the Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2013, Rodney Emeka Igewdinma is ready to take on the world with his craft.
How was it competing against other fashion brands at the 2013 Lagos Fashion and Design Week?
I really don’t believe that someone’s background should be a limiting factor in how far one can go. It is all about what is inside of you. So, I think that was what paved the way for me. During the auditioning, I was challenged and amazed at some of the designs but I wasn’t intimidated. This is the magnitude of belief and confidence which is in me. I have no fashion qualification whether local or international but I just believe in my work.
What was the feeling when you won?
It is everyone’s dream to be a winner and so I was very elated when my name was announced as the winner. I have a certain fulfillment from winning the competition because I have put a lot into this craft.
I so much prepared for it. At the last edition in 2012, I was at the finale where the winner was announced. I studied the process and work flow of how the models and designers presented their materials. From that point, my preparations began for the 2013 edition.
What were the high points of your preparation for the event?
Every month or at least once in two weeks, I tried to go through some of the collections from the last edition of the MTN Young Designer’s competition. I meticulously studied them, that was what I did for about a year.
How do you plan to maximize the platform which your winning has brought?
This platform would help to popularize the McMeka brand within and outside Nigeria. As a designer, you are expected to create and participate in fashion shows, hence we intend to do all of these when the time is ripe while creating sites for people to be able to buy our collections online.
When did you realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?
My mom is a tailor and she always put us though tailoring when we were young. Though I was a bit stubborn and didn’t find the experience pleasurable, she insisted that we all learn the craft. So, when I grew up I became serious about it.
Would you say that the work environment is suitable for the realization of your dreams?
In Nigeria, the only way to thrive as a fashion designer is to be known. If you are unknown, there is no way you can sell. The options are limited. You can enter for a competition, win and become a star or you work your socks up till you become relevant. As young designers, we don’t have the kind of resources which are available to established names in large stores, showrooms where people can come and buy your pieces.
Which designers are you looking up to?
As a bespoke men’s suit designer, I find inspiration from the Okunnoren Twins. They have got some interesting designs in their kitty. On the international front, I admire the works of Tom Ford, Oswald Boateng and Dsquared. I also look up to the works of Tiffany Amber, Mai Atafo and LDA.
How do you select your models?
It depends on the story I am telling in the collections. The man about town collection tells the story of a traveller, a man that loves adventure style, and doesn’t follow trends. He creates his own trend. So, in picking models for this collection, I look at faces that could actually interpret the story behind the collection. I try as much as possible to pick the hard faces because it’s not casual, it’s only for the bold, daring and someone who is not afraid of any style.
How would you define your personal style?
I think I have taste, class and panache. What has brought me this far has been my finish line and the way my clothes fit people.
How did you spend the N4 million you won as winner of the Young Designer of the Year?
The money is not for me. It belongs to McMeka. It was used to push the brand.
How did you come about the name McMeka?
From my name Emeka, the Mc is British.
What is your relationship status?
I am 26 and happily single, though I am in a relationship with someone who encourages me to keep my dream alive and very understanding with my busy schedules. She likes fashion but she doesn’t design.
What would you say about the MTN Young Designer of the Year Award?
I think the initiative is a good one. I so much appreciate the fact that the organizers of the Lagos Fashion and Design Week are working so hard to bring out young talents in Nigeria’s fashion scene.
What fashion item do you love so much that you will love to have no matter how expensive?
That will be shoes and more shoes.
What are your favourite colours?
Burgundy, orange and grey.
Which is your dream car?
Mercedes Benz G-Wagon.
Briefly tell us your background.
I am from Anambra State, currently studying Accounting at the University of Lagos. I am the last child from a family of seven, my dad, Ebenezer Igwedinma is a retired civil servant while my mom, Monica Igwedinma is a tailor.